Updates from the Hamtramck Historical Museum ….

A recent meeting of merchants at the Hamtramck Historical Museum was a hit.

By the Hamtramck Historical Museum
Here’s a roundup of the latest happenings from the Hamtramck museum:
More than 50 Hamtramck merchants and guests gathered at the Museum on Thursday, May 11, for the annual Downtown Development Authority Merchants Meeting. This was the first time the event was held at the museum.
Dominic Romano, senior Community Development manager with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, was keynote speaker. He gave those attending an update on grants, loans and other economic assistance programs available to help local businesses.
Numerous merchants and organizations participated in the event, including the Yemeni American Chamber of Commerce, ACCESS, Global Detroit, Prospectus Detroit and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It was sponsored by the Hamtramck Downtown Development Authority.
An assortment of delicious food added some extra spice to the event.
But most importantly, local merchants had an opportunity to “showcase what they have to offer and learn about resources to help their businesses thrive.

Coming in July
“Hamtramck Through the Years” is being printed now and will be on sale on July 3.
The new book by museum Executive Director Greg Kowalski explores what it was like to live in Hamtramck in 1890, 1901, 1910, 1922, 1935,1945 and 1959 in great detail.
You will get an insight into what Hamtramck was like, plus get detailed views of the day that Pope John Paul II visited Hamtramck in 1987 and when the city was struck by a tornado in 1997.
The book will be on sale at the Hamtramck Historical Museum, mailing will be available; email for shipping cost. The museum also will host a special program and book signing later this summer.

From the Executive Director … Placing nostalgia in perspective

Whenever a plane flies low overhead I look up.
I’ve been doing that since I was a kid, and it’s a habit I now seem to do instinctively. My mom (who died 10 years ago) told me that when she was a kid many years ago all the kids would look skyward at passing planes and shout in chorus “aeroplane! aeroplane!”
I don’t do that. But I look. It isn’t just a habit, it’s a link to my now-distant childhood. In a little way it takes me back in time and leads me to more pleasant childhood memories.
It’s nostalgic.
At the museum we have a love-hate relationship with nostalgia. Everyone loves nostalgia, but history can be far less inviting.
In the talks I give I like to describe the difference between nostalgia and history as remembering the days when you were a kid, and they canceled school that week and you had such a great time playing outside and having fun.
That’s nostalgia.
What you don’t remember is that they canceled school because two kids died of polio that week and there was a real fear that it would spread.
That’s history, and it actually happened more than once in Hamtramck. In fact, in 1939 there was a big public stir when the schools delayed opening for the new school year because of a polio threat.
But who remembers polio fondly? We’d rather forget that part of the story.
At the museum we try to strike a balance between nostalgia and history. We offer a lot of detailed written explanations of the material on display. We want visitors to see, know and understand what they are looking at and why it means something to them, even if they aren’t from Hamtramck.
And we invite viewers to explore the history and meaning of the items in greater depth. That’s part of interpretation, which is an essential element in our purpose for being. All of this is designed to give our visitors an accurate understanding of Hamtramck’s history.
And maybe stir some pleasant memories of their own.
So come to the museum and learn more. And don’t forget to look when a plane passes by.
(By Greg Kowalski, Executive Director)

Ongoing … Play Ball!
Have you visited the Play Ball! Baseball in Hamtramck exhibit now on display at the museum?
Even if you have, you should come back again. That’s because the exhibit is a fluid display, By that we mean it is being expanded and revised continuously. So even if you already came by, you likely haven’t seen everything.
And a series of events related to the exhibit will be held later this summer and into the fall. Details will be released soon. The exhibit will remain open through the end of the 2023 World Series in November.

What’s new
The International Hall on Yemans St. was better known as being the home of the local Communist Party.
But even communists can have fun, and every so often the hall hosted social events. The Nuf Sed Dance featured “Those Bilikens” on a wintery night in December, 1933.
This entrance ticket was donated by Dan Rojek, and is part of a much larger collection of dance cards from that era. They offer an unusual insight into history.
Posted June 23, 2023

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